KUUME Clothing is a couture jointly owned by Klaus Uche Ume and Stephen Modebe. In this chat with KEHINDE AJOBIEWE, Klaus Ume talks about the duo's designs, aspirations and his love for music.
Please, tell us about your background?
I am the fifth son in a family of seven (6 boys and a girl). My dad is a medical doctor and my mum a teacher, but went into fashion. Both of them have been very supportive of my chosen career path. I do music as well. I was a finalist on the Idols West Africa (a talent hunt show) and I have featured in a few movies and a soap opera. I hold a diploma in Fine & Applied Arts from IMT, Enugu, while my partner (Modebe) recently graduated of the Computer Science Department of NAU, Awka.
How did you come up with your brand name?
The brand name is a combo of my initials and surname.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Nature, music, colours and human body, all, inspire my designs.
How long have you been in the industry?
I've been in the industry officially for one year, but I have been doing this as a hobby since I was like five or six years.
How supportive are your parents?
My parents are very supportive, because they always wanted me to go in that direction, since they saw my fashion inclination from a young age. But I hesitated.
What kind of wears do you design?
I design for both male and female, from casual to formal, to evening and red carpet clothes.
Have you displayed your designs in any fashion show before?
I haven't done any fashion show in Nigeria, because I feel like I am not ready yet. But I did a test run show sometime in April in Ghana, and the response was quite positive.
How is the acceptance of your designs in the Nigerian market?
As I'm still new in the fashion business, it's been fair enough for now. But we are making good progress to get it all out there and gain more acceptance.
Tell us more about your company?
The company, KUUME, was started by me, and my friend and partner (Stephen Modebe), but I take the role of the creative director, while he handles the marketing aspect of the business.
What is fashion to you?
Fashion is whatever makes you comfortable and unique. It should make you feel good about you. Fashion can sometimes be a pain, because it is not always comfortable, but we can't do without it.
Did your mother have an influence in your going into fashion?
I was basically exposed to fashion by my mum. But I have always had the fashion thing going for me, and she helped nurture it.
Would you say she is your role model in the industry?
She is more conservative in her fashion style. So, she has had a strong effect in my art, but because I am young I embrace fashion in a forward way too. So, I can say she is one of my role models.
What do you consider when designing an outfit for your clients?
The fit and finishing are very important to me. Then, other factors like fabrics, colour, and comfort can come into play too.
Would you say fashion is for the rich?
Fashion is basically anything you make of it; both for the rich and poor.
What are your plans for the future?
For sure, I have big plans for the future; definitely, get into accessories, shoes, bags, glasses, wristwatches, perfumes and what have you. The plan is to build a fashion empire that will stand the test of time.